The Food of Argentina: Asado, Empanadas, Dulce de Leche, & More, written by Ross Dobson and Rachel Tolosa Paz, features the wonderfully diverse and rich cuisine of Argentina. Highlights include Pizza a la Parilla (Barbecued Pizza), Lomito Completo (Steak Sandwich), Sambayón (Marsala Ice Cream), Pan Casero (Rustic Country Loaf), Ñoqui con Tuco (Gnocchi with Beef Ragù), Ensalada Criolla (Tomato and Onion Salad), Chocotorta (Chocolate Cake), and so much more. I will also be sharing their recipe for Empanadas de Carne (Beef Empanadas) following the review.
Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book from Smith Street Books in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Ross Dobson and Rachel Tolosa Paz
Ross Dobson is a chef and food writer based in Sydney, Australia. Along with The Food of Argentina, he has written 15 books including Market Vegetarian, Wholesome Kitchen, and Food + Beer. His book, Fired Up, won the Australian nomination for ‘Best in the World’ barbecue cookbook category at the 2014 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. He was also a contributing food editor for the Australian BBC Good Food magazine and has published articles in The Sun-Herald, The Age, and the Sydney Morning Herald.
Rachel Tolosa Paz is a freelance photographer and writer currently based in Australia. She travelled to Argentina in 2014 for a two-month writing residency at Residencia Corazón in La Plata, Buenos Aires and it turned into a year long stay after she fell in love with the country. Her work has appeared in The Saturday Paper, ABR, Ocula, ABC Arts, Collective Magazine, and more. This is her first book.
The Food of Argentina
Chapters are divided according to the following: Afuera, En Casa, Asado, and Merienda. Each chapter begins with an introduction and insight into the culture surrounding the food.
Rachel Tolosa Paz provided the gorgeous photography. In addition to every recipe being accompanied by a beautiful full-page photo of the finished product, there are plenty of shots of the local landscape, food, and people. Measurements are listed in Metric and US Customary. The titles are written in Spanish with the English translation underneath. Every recipe includes a headnote with background information, tips, ingredient help, serving size, and menu ideas.
This book is a great pick for those interested in the cuisine of Argentina. The recipes cover a little of everything with baked items, pizza, pasta, grilled meats, vegetables, sweets, and more. Complexity ranges from simple sandwiches to more intricate breads, tarts, and stews. Most of the ingredients are readily available in the average American grocery store. Some that may require further searching include fresh seafood, chickpea flour, chorizo, quince paste, morello cherries, coarse semolina, limoncello, tapioca starch, ají molido, and bone marrow.
Empanadas de Carne (Beef Empanadas)
Empanada lovers will enjoy the four different empanada recipes and two types of homemade dough (fried and baked) found in this book. I started with the baked Empanadas de Carne (Beef Empanadas), but can’t wait to try the Empanadas de Cerdo y Chorizo (Pork and Chorizo Empanadas) next.
While I often prefer the flavor of fried doughs, I honestly didn’t miss it at all with the buttery, flaky shortcrust enclosing the spiced beef mixture in these empanadas. With the help of a food processor, the dough comes together easily, but does require two 1 hour resting periods. It can be prepared up to a day in advance and refrigerated or frozen for up to 1 month. Just be sure to bring the dough to room temperature before using for easy handling. After rolling the dough until it is 1/16th inch thick, 4 3/4 inch circles are cut out and ready for the filling.
This particular Empanadas de Carne recipe is inspired by Alfredo Andrada’s ‘carnicería’ in Mercado del Progreso, Buenos Aires’ local produce market. According to Alfredo, the trick is to use equal amounts of onion and beef in the filling. Once the mixture has cooled completely, 2 tablespoons are placed in the center of each pastry circle. Fold over the circle to seal and crimp or pleat the edges to keep any filling from bursting out. The tops of the empanadas are brushed with beaten egg before baking in the oven until puffed and golden. The instructions say 15-20 minutes, but my oven needed closer to 30.
I also made the Garrapiñada de Maní (Caramel Peanuts); Tallarines de Espinaca con Salsa Blanca (Spinach Fettuccine Alfredo); Sándwich de Jamón, Queso y Tomate (Ham, Cheese and Tomato Sandwich); and Cuadraditos de Coco y Mermelada (Coconut and Jam Slice).
With only three ingredients, the Garrapiñada de Maní (Caramel Peanuts) come together relatively easily for quite the addictive snack. The peanuts are tossed in a vanilla bean caramel until thickly coated. After cooling in a single layer, the peanuts are best served warm but will also keep at room temperature in an airtight container for a couple of days. They were also perfect sprinkled over vanilla ice cream.
I absolutely love the handful of pasta dishes found in this book. For this review I made the Tallarines de Espinaca con Salsa Blanca (Spinach Fettuccine Alfredo), but can’t wait to try the others like the Sorrentinos (Argentine Ravioli). After preparing the homemade spinach fettuccine, the al dente pasta is tossed with the garlic butter sauce, ham, parsley, and parmesan. This particular version omits the cream, but it can be added after cooking for a richer sauce.
The Merienda chapter has a wonderful collection of recipes perfect for holding you over between lunch and dinner. The Sándwich de Jamón, Queso y Tomate is no exception. This sandwich comes together quickly and easily for a satisfying snack. Two thick slices of white bread are buttered and layered with ham, tomato, and provolone. Sándwich de Miga lovers will also find a recipe for Sándwich de Huevo, Mayonesa y Aceitunas (Egg, Mayonnaise and Green Olive Sandwich).
The Cuadraditos de Coco y Mermelada (Coconut and Jam Slice) have a buttery base topped with jam (I used strawberry, but it is also good with quince or fig) and a sweetened coconut mixture. These little squares are perfect for pairing with coffee or tea.
Empanadas de Carne (Beef Empanadas) Recipe
Excerpt from The Food of Argentina
Empanadas de Carne (Beef Empanadas)
Baked Empanada Dough:
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 185 milliliters (6 fl oz, 3/4 cup) iced water
- 500 grams (1 pound 2 ounces) all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting
- 250 grams (9 ounces) unsalted butter melted
Empanadas de Carne (Beef Empanadas):
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large white onions finely chopped
- 500 grams (1 pound 2 ounces) ground beef
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon mild paprika
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 egg beaten
To Make the Baked Empanada Dough:
Combine the salt and water in a small bowl and stir until the salt is dissolved. Tip the flour into the bowl of a food processor. With the motor running, slowly pour the melted butter into the flour, followed by the salt water. Process until the mixture begins to come together to form a rough dough (do not overmix).
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for a couple of minutes until you have a smooth dough ball. Divide the dough in half (this makes it easier to work with) and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave for about 1 hour at room temperature before using. The dough can also be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before using.
Working with one piece of dough at a time, on a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a 2 mm (1⁄ 6 in) thick circle. Cover, and set aside for a further 1 hour. Use a pastry cutter to cut out 12 cm (43⁄4 in) circles of dough, stacking the circles as you go, until you have 24 circles.
To Make the Beef Empanadas:
Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10–15 minutes, until softened. Stir through the minced beef and cook, stirring to break up any larger pieces of meat, for 8–10 minutes, until browned. Stir through the cumin and paprika. Add 250 ml (81⁄2 fl oz/1 cup) water and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line two baking trays with baking paper.
Place 2 tablespoons of the beef mixture in the centre of each dough circle and lightly brush the edges with beaten egg. Fold the dough to enclose the filling and press the edges together to seal. Crimp or pleat the dough, then transfer to the baking trays. Brush the tops of the empanadas with beaten egg, then bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes, until puffed and golden.